Monday, May 9, 2011

“Where can I get a kimono in size Y?” or What you actually need to know to figure out if that kimono will fit you

A common question I see is where someone can get a kimono that will fit. This is a reasonable question, though a bit difficult to answer, especially for non-Japanese people (who are often larger than Japanese people). One thing that makes answering this question difficult is the simple fact that kimono are not sized like Western clothing. But what exactly does that mean?

Western clothing is usually labeled with a size, such as M or XXL, 12 or 26, 16/18, or whatever special system a particular store or brand has developed (e.g. many items sold in Torrid use Torrid’s own sizing system of 0-5, which roughly corresponds to the sizes 12/14-28/30 found in other stores). Western-style clothing in Japan follows a similar system. Kimono usually do not. When you’re buying a kimono, knowing your Western clothing size is largely irrelevant. You need to know your measurements. At the very least you will need to know your height and your hip or waist measurement. For the hips/waist, you will also need to take into account the fact that a properly-worn kimono or yukata wraps around your body and overlaps in the front, so that the outer edge of each front panel lines up with the opposite side seam. That’s a lot of extra inches you need to account for if you want the kimono to fit! You might also want to know your “wingspan,” the measurement from one wrist to the other with your arms outstretched, so you don’t wind up with a kimono that fits like a t-shirt.

Once you know these measurements, where do you find a kimono that fits you? Well, you can try some of the resources I listed in my second post, but depending on your size it may be difficult or impossible to find a ready-made kimono that will fit you. This is simply because Japanese people tend to be smaller than non-Japanese people, not only in terms of weight but also in terms of build. As a result, most of the clothing items available from Japan -- including kimono -- are smaller than those made for a Western market. Add to this that most second-hand kimono were probably made for a specific person and you can see the difficulty involved in finding a kimono to fit your measurements. It CAN be done. I know plenty of people who have done it. But it helps to be aware of these things when you’re hunting for your kimono. Keep in mind that if you’re substantially larger than an average Japanese person (e.g. you’re very tall or you’re plus-sized, like me) that your options might be very limited. I have found yukata in my size, and one polyester komon in a Japanese 5L (which was still too small for me when I wore an American 3X regularly), but I have never seen more formal kimono in my size and I had to have both of my komon custom-made.

Good luck in your kimono hunt, and if you find any good resources please let me know!

1 comment:

  1. Kimonomachi Rakuten serves TL yukata :).
    Speaking about rakuten, the biggest size for its shoes for woman shoes is 39.